USA Hoops Coaches Popovich, Kerr At Center Of Political Discussion
USA Basketball coach Gregg Popovich's "allusion to the current political climate" in a message during a private meeting for players and coaches was a reminder that the first USA Basketball team of the President Trump era "will be led by two vocal critics of the president," according to Ben Golliver of the WASHINGTON POST. In addition to Popovich, assistant coach Steve Kerr has "taken exception to Trump's rhetoric and policies." It "remains to be seen whether USA Basketball, which adopted a buttoned-up style" throughout Mike Krzyzewski's tenure as coach, will "become embroiled in political antagonism or opt for a nonconfrontational approach under its new coaching regime." If Kerr's Twitter account is any indication, USA Basketball has "hardly instituted a gag order on political expression" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/7).
SPEAKING OUT: ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk noted Popovich and Kerr yesterday "criticized lawmakers for not doing nearly enough about gun control" following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton over the weekend. Popovich said, "It'd be a lot better if the people in power got off their asses and got something done ... in a lot of different areas." He added sarcastically, "They'll come back and fix the gun situation, the environment, inequality, pay, they'll fix all that when they come back, I'm sure." Kerr: "Somebody could walk in the door in the gym right now and start spraying us with an AR-15. They could. It might happen because we're all vulnerable, whether we go to a concert, a church, the mall or go to the movie theater or a school" (ESPN.com, 8/6). ESPN's Stan Verrett noted Kerr has been affected by gun violence, as his father was "gunned down in Lebanon" in '84. Kerr is "hoping the team can provide a unifying distraction for Americans shaken by the violence at home." Verrett added Popovich "doesn't think USA Basketball can fix the divisiveness in the country right now, but he hopes the team can be a great example of how people can come together for a common goal and achieve it" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/7). Meanwhile, FS1's Jason Whitlock said that Popovich, Kerr and the NBA "need to find a way to disagree with our president without denigrating our country" ("Speak For Yourself," FS1, 8/6).